The students of the First Star Greater Washington Academy are simply AWESOME! We continue to be so pleased with their continuous progress through the curriculum. Yesterday, we covered a lot of ground and had a terrific day. Fortified with fresh bananas, juice and bagels, we met at the Mott Community Center and began the day with a review and discussion of our Academy objectives,. The students offered feedback on what we have introduced so far as well as seeing what was coming in the future. We moved easily into a more physical activity with Tai Chi offered by our great instructor, Mr. Michael Boudreau Xue Jin Wei, who taught us movements to energize us, focus our breathing (the sun movement) and manage anger. We really liked punching out the negative energy and pulling in the positive energy.
Dr. Barbara Given gave us an encore presentation to cement the Natural Learning Systems and Quantum Learning framework, and she shared how our Academy curriculum dovetails in the emotional, social, physical, cognitive and reflective learning realms. Her expertise on the brain, the vagus nerve responses, and her own personal story was extremely informative and personally relevant. The students did well with the high level information and discussed how it pertained to their learning experiences.
Everyone enjoyed a special lunch from Popeye’s and enjoyed celebrating Kevin’s birthday with some homemade chocolate cake. We quickly moved into our financial literacy unit with a family budgeting game and check writing, followed by a basketball math review game with the student budget teams. Laura and Karla from Capital One make money management skills an interesting and stress-free experience. I wish that were true in real life!
Our friends from Arena Stage met with the students, shared a video of the Voices of Now workshop experience, and we all engaged in a fun circle exercise that showed off our energy and ability to think quickly, follow directions, and increase our interpretation and memory skills. We have five students so far planning to participate in this exciting opportunity at Arena Stage in Washington, DC.
Students excitedly received their video cameras and intently listened to Mr. Jim’s instruction on activation and proper use. They look forward to learning how to use these cameras to share their stories. This activity led into the next steps for our Facebook page and we hope to have everyone talking on our page within the next two weeks. Students spent a few minutes writing about their day in their journals, then moved into free expression time. We changes plans slightly by having our students participate in the clean-up first, which they did enthusiastically and without any complaints. We then all settled in the smaller classroom where we were joyously entertained with singing and rapping by two students. As parents arrived, they, too, sat in to enjoy these fine performances. Departure was quick and easy. Three of us waited with one last student whose mother had navigational difficulties in finding the location.
As is our practice, mentors and volunteers debriefed at the end of the day. We all agreed that the behavior of the students continues to be refined each time we meet. We barely had to address cell phones or ear buds at all this day, and everyone treated each other respectfully and affectionately. The students even reached out to our new volunteers and one new mentor to make them feel welcomed and comfortable. We were all so very proud of how our students are choosing to conduct themselves. We look forward to February when we take our big field trip to Mary Washington University in Fredericksburg. We had shared with the students how our emphasis on academic rigor is going to increase with each event.
I give thanks to everyone who made this day such a fine success. We cannot accomplish this without the loving families, the dedicated social workers and agency personnel, the determined students, the great instructors, the First Star leadership team, and the encouraging mentors and volunteers who put their hearts and souls into all we do! It is hard to believe we have come so far in seven total days over the past five months!
With great gratitude,